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Dad’s Honor Flight

Let me give a shout out to my niece Rachel for taking the lead in getting her Grandpa (My Dad) on the Honor Flight to D.C. this weekend. My Dad is understandably excited about the trip. Here is from the Honor Flight website:

Our Mission: To transport America’s Veterans to Washington, DC to visit those memorials dedicated to honor the service and sacrifices of themselves and their friends.

Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization created solely to honor America’s veterans for all their sacrifices. We transport our heroes to Washington, D.C. to visit and reflect at their memorials. Top priority is given to the senior veterans – World War II survivors, along with those other veterans who may be terminally ill.

Of all of the wars in recent memory, it was World War II that truly threatened our very existence as a nation—and as a culturally diverse, free society. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, an estimated 640 WWII veterans die each day. Our time to express our thanks to these brave men and women is running out.

Here is the bio page for my Dad:

Tony Campos

Private First Class, Army of the United States. Campos served his country in World War II from 1943 – 1945.

Campos was born in Baytown, Texas on August 21, 1923.

He was drafted and June 23, 1943 was his date of entry into active service.   He trained at Camp Mackall, North Carolina and Fort Benning, Georgia.

He was a Machine Gunner, Heavy. Was with the 460th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion in combat in Italy, France, Belgium, and Germany. He fired a 50c:1 machine gun to protect artillery positions. He made one combat jump. Campos was most proud of fighting in the Battle of the Bulge. 

He was discharged on October 29, 1945. He returned home and married Alicia Torres in September of 1946. They were married for over 70 years with Alicia passing this past June. They had four children, nine grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren.

Campos was a graduate of Baylor University, had a career in public education, and devoted much of his time to the political participation process and civic endeavors including playing a key role in organizing the League of United Latin American Citizens’ (LULAC) Little School of the 400, a program created in Texas in 1957 that taught Spanish-speaking children 400 English words before they entered first grade.

This stuff ain’t made up folks. The military details are from his Discharge and Separation Qualification Record documents that are framed and hanging on a wall here. The Little School of the 400 details you can easily find online.

We are all so proud of Dad.

Here is from the Chron today:

AUSTIN – One of the top Republicans leaders in the Texas Legislature is slamming the city of Houston and other local governments for trying to raise taxes on homeowners in the name of hurricane recovery.

And he’s certain the increase will provoke a response of some sort from the Legislature.

“I don’t understand this mindset,” state Sen. Paul Bettencourt, a Republican from Houston, said. “It’s callous.”

Here is the entire read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/texas/article/Post-Harvey-tax-increases-huge-mistake-key-12213414.php?utm_campaign=btfpm.

Nope!   Not spending the Rainy Day Fund is callous.

Lisa Falkenberg lays out the facts here on the Texas State Capitol confederate plaque: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Confederates-Texans-own-words-reveal-plaque-s-12213011.php.

Of course, the facts have never mattered to Johnny Reb.

I was at a Dem meeting yesterday and saw the candidate for Harris County Judge. Here is from her website:

Lina Hidalgo was raised in an immigrant family. She knows first-hand the sacrifices hard working Texans make every day to pave a better life for their families. Lina was born in Colombia, when the drug war still raged and everyone knew someone who had been kidnapped. Her parents had two goals: to make sure she had a good education and to get the family to a safer place. Lina grew up in Peru and Mexico, where her parents were offered job opportunities, before emigrating to America in 2005. Lina is a proud product of Texas public schools and, as her parents dreamed, was the first in her family to attend college in the U.S. She graduated from Stanford University with a degree in political science the same year she became a U.S. citizen. Since arriving in Texas, Lina has been committed to giving back.

Lina has dedicated hundreds of hours to our County’s most vulnerable communities—from her time at the Texas Civil Rights Project to serving as a Spanish-English medical interpreter at the Texas Medical Center and supporting immigrants in search of lost loved ones. Over the past few years and while pursuing a joint degree in law and public policy at NYU and Harvard, Lina conducted research on criminal justice policies and coordinated with advocacy groups and governments to push for criminal justice reform. Before that, Lina worked throughout Southeast Asia to promote transparency and accountability by supporting journalists, bloggers and artists. She helped create and fund a program to bring Stanford students to public policy positions and has served the immigrant and incarcerated communities at any opportunity and in various states.

Lina Hidalgo, 2018 candidate for Harris County Judge.

Here is her website: http://www.linahidalgo.com/.

Interesting.

The meeting was actually a Dem forum for HISD candidates. At Dem events these days the judicial candidates are there getting petitions signed. During the forum I was listening to the questions and answers and a judicial candidate shoved a petitions clipboard in front of my face – bad form.

After the event I went to The Yard and ended up snagging a foul ball.

We won last night but didn’t make up ground on Cleveland.

I wonder if Hunker Down knows that 44 years ago today, the Astrodome hosted “The Battle of the Sexes.”

 

 

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Playoff City

I only watched the end of the Emmys so I didn’t get to see that Spicer fella. The fella has zilch credibility. He got paid to lie for a liar. If Colbert, CBS, and the Emmys want to pay a liar’s liar to be on TV, well, that is their money. I am not going to get worked up over a liar’s liar. I got better things to do like worry about the MLB Playoffs and which 25 ‘Stros will be on the playoff roster.

Same goes for the “Today” show on NBC. If they want to have a liar like Bill O’Reilly on like they did this morning, have at it.

BTW: Here is a Chron story on the playoff roster here: http://www.chron.com/sports/astros/article/Predicting-the-Astros-25-man-playoff-roster-ALDS-12207323.php#photo-14128592.

The Chron’s David Barron has a nice story on the Harris County Houston Sports Authority celebrating twenty years of existence here: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/sports/article/Sports-authority-s-mission-has-evolved-in-last-20-12207653.php.

It was 21 years ago that Harris County voters approved the mechanism and funding for the baseball and football cribs. The legislature created the Sports Authority the next year. A few years later voters approve the basketball crib. Say what you want about the funding but the voters approved and I think Downtown H-Town has become a way much better place to visit.

This was the headline of a Chron tweet and online story yesterday:

Astros sell out of playoff tickets in two minutes

That is kind of not true. The tickets were made available yesterday to the general public at 12 noon and were gone in two minutes. For the three previous hours, 9 am to 11:59 am, they were available to current season ticket holders. Some season ticket holders I know had access to playoff tickets last week. Got it?

H-Town has over two weeks to get ready for Game One of the ALDS. Excitement is starting to build. Right now it looks like we will be hosting the Red Sox in the first game on Thursday, October 5. You have to figure since we are playing the Red Sox, we might get the evening time slot – maybe.

Tags has a piece on the pitching rotation right now here: http://m.astros.mlb.com/news/article/254947112/astros-inbox-how-will-playoff-rotation-look/.

The playoffs start in 16 days.

AL West Champs

Commentary has not said much about the ESPN woman who called Donald Trump a white supremacist. This is the same Trump who questioned the legitimacy of our first African American president so that is all I am going to say.

If you read anything this past weekend, I hope it was the front page story in the Chron yesterday on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last minute decision to release water from the reservoirs. Heart breaking, sad, you name it. How can this happen? This is a must read here: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/local/article/Residents-blast-Army-Corps-of-Engineers-for-12204736.php.

A great take from Bill King today:

Time to Tap Rainy Day Fund for Houston Flood Projects

The State of Texas prudently maintains a “Rainy Day” fund.  Currently the fund balance is just over $10 billion.  The technical name for the fund is the Economic Stabilization Fund.  Either of its monikers strongly suggest that it should be tapped at this time to jump start critical flood control projects in the Houston region.  

Our region is subject to two types of flood risks.  

The first is a storm surge from a hurricane.  A storm surge from a “Scenario 7” storm, a Category 4 or larger that makes landfall near Freeport, is an existential threat to our region.  Such a storm would flood all of Galveston County, about half of Brazoria County and about 20% of Harris County.  It would kill thousands, cause billions in property damages and inestimable ecological damage as the surge overruns sites with decades of industrial pollution.  It would also wreak havoc on the State and national economy as a large percentage of the refining and petrochemical capacity would be offline for months.  

The second risk is from massive rain events which outstrip our drainage system’s ability to move the rainwater to the Bay.  Of course, the recent Harvey flooding was an extreme example of such an event.  These events are occurring more frequently because we are getting more rain than we have in the past and because we poured concrete and asphalt over soil that used to soak up some of that rainfall without making adequate provision for the resulting increased runoff.

The good news is that there are solutions to both problems.  The bad news is that the solutions are expensive. . . . and I mean really expensive.  

The solution to storm surge flooding is a coastal barrier, as originally conceived by Texas A&M Galveston’s Bill Merrill, and subsequently refined by input from a variety of stakeholders.  The cost is $10-15 billion.   

The solution to Harvey-type flooding is more multifaceted and probably still requires some additional study.  But it clearly must include shoring up the Barker and Addicks reservoirs, adding massive amounts of additional detention, tightening up detention regulations and building codes, and potentially building a third reservoir.  The costs for these measures is less certain but could easily be another $5 billion.   

I am not suggesting we should drain the Rainy Day fund to build these projects.  Most of the tab will have to be picked up by the Federal government.  But the Federal government gives preference to projects where local and State governments are willing to pick up a share of the costs.  If our State leadership goes to the Feds with a commitment to use some of the Rainy Day fund, say $2 billion, we will stand a much better chance of getting Federal funding.

If we fail to address these risks there will be long-term, adverse economic consequences for our region, the State and indeed the entire nation.  The Houston region accounts for almost 30% of the State’s total GDP.  As goes Houston so goes the State.  

After a week of nonstop national news coverage about how vulnerable Houston is to flooding, what corporation is going to relocate here?  Would you schedule a convention in Houston during hurricane season?  How many companies are going to build a new plant in a place where it could be inundated by a 25-foot storm surge?   

Now is the time for bold leadership, not Republican primary posturing.  There is nothing conservative about failing to make investments that we know are needed to avoid future losses.  In fact, it is grossly irresponsible not to do so.

A hundred years from now no one is going to remember anything about bathroom bills or even know what that the hell a sanctuary city was.  But, as we remember the construction of the Galveston Seawall over a century after it was built, our grandchildren will remember whether we, as a generation, stepped up and ended the threat of devastating flooding to our region and the State’s largest economic engine.

Nice job

I guess H-Town needed this. Commentary is talking about the ‘Stros being the AL West Champs and playoff bound.   After getting thumped pretty good by Harvey we have something we can root, root, root for.

Commentary had other commitments yesterday, so I wasn’t able to attend the game. I did catch the last couple innings and the post-game celebration on the flat screen. Josh Reddick in a speedo – huh!

This is our first outright division championship since 1999 when we went 97-65 in the NL Central.   In 2001, we finished 93-69 along with San Luis but we had a better head-to-head record so we won the division champion slot in the playoffs – got it?

It is pretty cool that we get two weeks plus to prepare for the playoffs.   We are still battling Cleveland for the best record in the AL and we need to at least hold off Boston for the second best record so we can have home field advantage in the ALDS.  At Friday night’s game, I could see into the front office’s suite and they had Cleveland and Royals on their flat screen.

It was interesting to catch the confidence level of the players, Skipper, and GM. They seriously believe we are World Serious bound. I like that. If Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander do what they are supposed to do, they can be.

We have 6 homies remaining then finish the regular season with 7 roadies.

AL West Champs sounds pretty good to me.

Another Czar

We now have us a state recovery czar on the Harvey mess. We have us an H-Town recovery czar. We now have a state housing czar on Harvey. We have had an H-Town flooding czar.   How about a what to do with the too much rain czar?

Commentary doesn’t comment on the football fella who takes a knee during the national anthem. I sing it when most folks don’t. Everyone knows the words, so why don’t folks sing it? We can sing Happy Birthday. We can sing “God Bless America.” Why don’t folks sing the national anthem?

We got gypped out of the last play of the game last night. Here is from the Chron:

KPRC (Channel 2) had a “Heidi” moment Thursday night.

The NBC affiliate was so eager to have its newscasters celebrate the Texans’ win over the Bengals that it cut away from the NBC/NFL Network telecast with two seconds to play and the outcome still in doubt.

With the clock at 10:30 p.m. and the game clock showing 0:00 before officials added two seconds for one final play, Channel 2 dumped the network broadcast and rolled its News 2 Houston graphic with the cheery voice of anchor Bill Balleza: “Well, second or no second added, we begin tonight with that Texans’ victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.”

“You saw it right here on Channel 2 just moments ago,” chirped anchor Dominique Sachse.

Only you didn’t. Not all of it, at least.

While the station showed highlights and switched to anchor Keith Garvin and sports director Randy McIlvoy in Cincinnati, fans watching on NFL Network saw the final play, which featured four downfield laterals by the Bengals before J.J. Watt made the final stop to end the game.

McIlvoy and Garvin acknowledged on camera that the final play took place off camera, and Channel 2 aired the play during its sportscast about 20 minutes later.

Viewers, understandably, were irked at the quick cutaway, voicing their displeasure with Channel 2 on social media.

But it could have been worse. The most famous early departure from a NFL game telecast came on Nov. 17, 1968, when NBC cut away from a Jets-Raiders game with a minute to play so it could start a telecast of the children’s tale “Heidi.”

The Jets led 32-29 when the network left the air, but the Raiders scored twice in the final minute to win 43-32. Viewers in the Pacific Time Zone saw the conclusion, but fans in the eastern half of the nation saw a little Swiss girl instead of football.

Known to posterity as the “Heidi Game,” the event is still considered one of the most memorable moments in TV history.

Thursday’s game aired on NBC affiliates only in the home team markets of Houston and Cincinnati.

I remember the Heidi game. Last night wasn’t Heidi but Channel 2 screwed up for sure.

The final homie of the season starts tonight. We have a nooner tomorrow and a nooner next Saturday. They are giving out Houston Strong t-shirts tonight and Springer bobbleheads tomorrow.

Amendments

On a sad note on Jim Simmon. From the Chron:

“We are saddened at the news of the death of Jim Simmon, our former colleague,” said Chronicle Senior Editor Tony Freemantle.

“We remember him for his sharp wit, his commitment to facts and the truth, and his dedication to holding those in power accountable. He was also a very good man. Our thoughts are with his family and his many friends.”

And this:

As news of the death spread, Houstonians and current and former journalists mourned the loss. “Jim Simmon, my friend, my former editor, fellow product of 1954, fellow kayaker, an irascible blessing to Texas who could say a funny lot with a grunt and write like a Hunter S. Thompson of the Gulf Coast,” (Alan) Bernstein wrote online, “is lost to us now on a permanent basis, and, I hope, is enjoying perpetual roots music in another sphere.”

Here is the read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/article/Former-Houston-Chronicle-editor-found-dead-in-12195710.php.

Sad.

I got letter from the Texas Secretary of State a couple of days ago letting me know that there will be seven constitutional amendments on this year’s ballot. Folks tend to not pay attention to these. If you have been out to The Yard the past two seasons and play the raffle where the winner gets half the prize money and the ‘Stros Foundation gets the other half that’s because a couple of years ago we voted for a constitutional amendment to allow the state’s major league pro sports teams to conduct these raffles. You’d be surprised at the number of folks – many of the most political savviest – don’t know this. Well now you know.

Just so you also know, this year’s Prop 5 deals with the issue again. This time they are adding the minor league clubs and other pro sports groups who want in on the action. Pay attention, please.

The H-Town Mayor is listening for sure. Before he has City Council vote on a tax increase, he is going to try to give us specifics. Here is from Mike Morris and the Chron:

The mayor said his staff will work over the next two to three weeks to better estimate what insurance policies will cover, what the Federal Emergency Management Agency will reimburse and what the city will be left to pay itself.

Bad move on the part of the Harris County GOP Chair for jumping the gun, not waiting for specifics, saying the County is managing the proper way, and making this a partisan issue. Bad move. I wonder if he will now oppose a Harris County tax hike. Bad move. Here again is from the Morris article:

Harris County GOP chair Paul Simpson issued a statement, accusing the city of “chronic waste and misuse of taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars” and calling on council members to “reject this opportunistic Tragedy Tax.”

“Not only does the City have cash reserves to meet short-term cash flow needs, the open-ended nature of this tax hike means it would do little to solve real challenges,” Simpson said.

Instead, he said, the city should follow Harris County’s lead in managing its resources.

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett on Wednesday said he would support a large bond issue – perhaps upward of $1 billion – and a tax hike to pay for it to refocus the county’s flood control strategy, including the construction of a new reservoir, continued bayou widening projects and large-scale buyouts of properties that repeatedly flood.

Here is the entire Morris read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/houston/article/City-plans-hearings-on-Harvey-related-property-12195951.php.

Bad move. When you make it a partisan issue over at the H-Town City Hall, you pretty much guarantee Dems will prevail. That is called counting your votes. Bad move.

Some folks were putting out yesterday’s Texas Trib piece on H-Town’s Flood Czar Stephen Costello. I was reminded by a key player that there was no mention in the Trib piece of the Rebuild H-Town fund which has been in place since 2011. H-Town voters passed the measure in 2010. How can the Rebuild H-Town fund not be mentioned in the Trib piece on flooding in H-Town? Don’t they know?

Here is the Trib piece here: https://www.texastribune.org/2017/09/13/follow-conversation-houstons-flood-czar/?utm_campaign=trib-social-buttons&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social.

FYI: Commentary worked for the Rebuild H-Town campaign.

From Steve Houston:

While FEMA and other forms of aid (no word from Governor Abbott whether the so-called “rainy day fund” will be used to cover what experts have called the “rainiest event in recorded US history”) will cover much of the city’s government losses, it won’t cover it all and in an already tight budget, the city is allowed to make an exception to the revenue cap so hopefully the hearings will allow Bill and others to get the kind of detailed information they will need to support or reject the measure. It should be noted that the average increase was stated at a little over $100, not Bill’s stated “hundreds of dollars”, but there’s some time for the Mayor to offer up specifics so there’s no need to jump the gun.

Bill’s continued attacks on Rebuild Houston also ignore the great many projects the program has accomplished but one need only go to the dedicated website and see what has been done, semantic games aside, a lot has been done that includes flood projects but in a pay as you go program, you’re not going to fund projects like Bill’s pet project, the Ike Dike, or revamp infrastructure that is wildly out of date and collapsing and everyone knows it. Might some of the funding going to buying out homes that repeatedly flood, much like the county plan, or on addressing some of the health concerns arising from the flooding? That seems likely but let’s wait before we join in to look like douches who try to capitalize on storms that made so many miserable. On a related note, contrary to popular opinion, most houses did not flood nor sustain any appreciable damage from Harvey, this needing to be said given the semantic games some politicians are playing.

On a last note, it’s surprising that neither Marc nor Bill made mention of Ed Emmett’s recent speech suggesting the county’s need to issue bonds, a minimum of a billion dollar’s worth at that, to address some of these concerns, as Bill has pointed out in the past, that form of financing can double the true costs, frankly, I’d rather pay an extra $118 now over issuing bonds but Ed is the leading GOP official for the county and has a better handle on these matters than all the Monday morning quarterbacks so I’m sure he’ll elaborate on specifics too when given a chance. Area flood control projects, including the billions championed by Bill for surge protection, are not going to come cheap, nor should we expect the feds to pay for it any more than the governor has made it a priority so get ready for more expenses.

On the ‘Stros: Unless Cleveland cools down, we need to aim for home field advantage in the ALDS and make sure the last four games at Fenway are meaningless. What else can I say?

Asking Questions

Commentary said this yesterday on the possibility of H-Town property owners paying more taxes:

If we are going to have to cough up more dough, you figure there have to be some trade-offs.

What exactly are we short? What exactly are we paying for? For example, if we lost 334 vehicles, what is the replacement cost for 334 vehicles?

And this:

One question I have is have we – folks from H-Town – ever seen our taxes increased to help pay for damages after a major hurricane or storm?

I have not gotten an answer on this.

Bill King is asking the tough questions and raising some points that ought to be discussed. Here is what Bill put out today:

Many Questions Need to be Answered

Before We Raise the City’s Property Taxes

Harvey was an extraordinary event and calls for an extraordinary response.  That response may include raising more revenue for flood projects in our region.  But the proposal by Sylvester Turner for City Council to immediately raise the City’s property taxes by $113 million raises a number of troubling questions.  

First, let’s not kid ourselves that his money is going to be used to stem flooding.  Since 2012, the City has collected about $800 million in “drainage fees.”  A tiny fraction of that money has actually been spent on flood control projects.  Trust me, none of this $113 million will be.  

Under the property tax cap charter amendment, City Council can raise additional property tax revenue over the cap by an amount “necessitated by city expenditures related to the inclusion of the city in any declaration of an emergency or disaster.

Therefore, the threshold question must be:  How is the $113 million going to be spent?  The only explanations we have gotten so far is that the City will have to pony up about $20 million for it share of debris removal expenses, needs to replace about 300 flooded vehicles and repair some unspecified damages to some of the City’s facilities.  But we have a $20 million “rainy day fund” (recently renamed the Budget Stabilization Fund) for exactly this purpose.  And it should not cost more than about $15 million to replace 300 vehicles.  So where is the rest of the money going?  

And were any of those losses covered by insurance?  I found a note in the 2016 Annual Report that appears to suggest that the City is covered for any flood losses over $10 million.  I do not know if that is actually the case or not.  But if we do not have any coverage, why not?  (And for that matter, why were over 300+ vehicles left where they would be flooded in the first place?)    

How much of these expenses will be covered by donations?  Are there alternatives to raising taxes?  Can some of the TIRZ money be tapped?  City reports show there is about a $50 million fund balance in the “dedicated” drainage fund.  Can that be used?

City Council has an obligation under the charter to demand an accounting of what expenses are necessitated by the disaster before voting to suspend the cap.  To do otherwise raises the question of whether this whole exercise is just a pretext to accomplish what the advocates of repealing the property tax cap knew they could not do at the ballot box.  

There are two things that make me suspicious this is just such a pretext.   First, the increase is exactly (to the one-hundredth percent) the amount the tax rate has been decreased because of the property tax cap.  Are we to believe that the city expenditures necessitated by the storm just happen to come out to that exact number?  

Second, Turner’s main surrogate for the repeal of the property tax cap, Council Member Dwight Boykins, made a telling statement.  He told the Houston Chronicle, “Anything to bust that damn rev cap, I’m in.

I think Boykins statement reflects the true opinion of many at City Hall.  They resent that Houston taxpayers have limited the amount that they can increase the property tax and will use any device or excuse to get rid of the cap, including exploiting a natural disaster.

I think it is also noteworthy that no other taxing jurisdiction in our area has proposed increasing taxes in response to Harvey.  The County and HISD both had more severe damages to their facilities, as did several of our sister cities on a relative basis.  Why is the City of Houston the only jurisdiction that needs to immediately raise its taxes?  

There could also be an unintended consequence from a tax increase.  It could spark a taxpayer backlash that will show up at the polls in the November for the City’s bond election.  My guess is that the improvement bonds are already in trouble since they have no money for streets or drainage.  But this could also imperil the passage of the pension bonds, which have, at least to now, enjoyed a comfortable margin of support.  The additional revenue from this tax increase will pale in comparison to the costs if the City is forced to go back to the drawing board on pensions.  

Many in this City are hurting right now.  True, the proposed tax increase will not make a significant difference to most.  But the optics of the City piling on to their misfortune are ugly and will do much to unravel the unity we have found through this ordeal. 

And it is $113 million that the City Council will decide how to spend instead of taxpayers.  That is $113 million less for Houstonians to repair damaged homes, replace flooded items and give to charities.  

Every tax dollar is a precious trust and especially so under these circumstances.  There may be a case for the City increasing taxes.  But that case has yet to be made.

Kuffer kind of hints at what the tax increase will be used for here:

The point here is that the city has some big unexpected bills to pay. It has to pay for a lot of overtime for police officers and firefighters who were rescuing people during the floods and who are dealing with aftereffects like traffic control. It has to pay for a lot of overtime to Solid Waste employees who are working to pick up the enormous piles of trash around the city. Your taxes are going up by a couple hundred bucks to pay for this. If you have a problem with that, I don’t know what to tell you, other than I can’t abide that kind of thinking.

Here is all of Kuffer: http://offthekuff.com/wp/?p=82439.

The Chron E-Board today supports the tax increase without asking the tough questions. Here is a part:

We support – and hope you will, too – Mayor Sylvester Turner’s proposed temporary property tax increase. Houston will receive a sizable amount of state and federal relief funding. The city’s insurance policies will eventually pay out. But it is incumbent on all Houstonians to contribute to the recovery effort, even if it means a higher tax bill in 2018.

Nobody particularly enjoys paying taxes, and we sympathize with homeowners who feel the mayor’s proposal adds insult to injury. We especially feel for those facing the prospect of paying more taxes for flooded homes that are suddenly worth a lot less.

Here is the entire read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/Generating-flood-funds-12192873.php.

Bill makes good points.  So does Kuffer, but specifics, please. Just lay out what we have to pay for. It is pretty simple if you ask me.

I need to talk to James to see if Pasadena is raising taxes.

Baytown is back to curbside recycling so I guess they won’t see a tax increase.

HISD suffered $700 million in damages. I wonder if they will raise taxes.

Hunker Down hasn’t signaled a tax increase.

Stay tuned.

We still have 18 games to play and they already released next season’s schedule. Here is from Tags:

HOUSTON — The Astros will open the 2018 season on the road March 29 against American League West foe Texas, marking the second time in club history they open the season against their Lone Star State rivals. Major League Baseball released the 2018 schedule on Tuesday.

The 2018 season will be the first under the new scheduling format agreed to as part of the 2017-2021 Basic Agreement between MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA). The new format extends the length of the season by adding an additional weekend of play at the beginning of the season.

And:

The March 29 start date will mark the earliest Opening Day in Major League history, excluding special season openers at international venues.

The Astros, who have won five consecutive games on Opening Day, will play the Rangers 19 times next year, but none in the final two months of the season. When the Rangers visit Minute Maid Park July 27-29, it will be the final meeting of the season between the teams.

And:

Houston’s longest road trip is 10 games through Texas (June 7-10), Oakland (June 12-14) and Kansas City (June 15-17). Its longest homestand is 11 games, when the White Sox (July 5-8), A’s (July 9-12) and Tigers (July 13-15) come to Minute Maid Park.

Interleague Play will include matchups against all five NL West clubs, four of which will be at home: the Padres (April 6-8), Giants (May 22-23), Rockies (August 14-15) and D-backs (Sept. 14-16). The Astros will travel to the D-backs (May 4-6), Rockies (July 24-25), Dodgers (Aug. 3-5) and Giants (Aug. 6-7).

We won last night and are 87-57.

 

Trade-Offs

The H-Town Mayor wants to increase our property taxes to help pay for stuff after the Harvey mess.

One question I have is have we – folks from H-Town – ever seen our taxes increased to help pay for damages after a major hurricane or storm?

Here is the start of Mike Morris’ story from the Chron:

Mayor Sylvester Turner will ask City Council to approve an 8.9 percent hike in the city’s tax rate this fall to help Houston recover from Tropical Storm Harvey, in what would be the first tax rate hike from City Hall in more than two decades.

The average Houston homeowner would pay $118 more in property taxes next year under the proposal, which will begin a series of public hearings later this month and reach a formal vote in mid-October.

The tax rate would rise from 58.64 cents per $100 of appraised value – the lowest city tax rate since the late 1980s – to 63.87 cents. That was the rate from 2009 through 2013, when a 13-year-old voter-imposed limit on Houston’s property tax collections first began forcing City Council to cut the rate each year to avoid bringing in more revenue than was allowed.

Turner is able to propose an increase beyond the strictures of the revenue cap – allowing the city to collect an extra $113 million for one year – because Harvey placed Houston under a federal disaster declaration.

“If this is not an emergency, I don’t know what is. What we’re able to recoup from one year, the $113 million, will not even be enough to cover the expenses we will have incurred,” Turner said Monday. “What we don’t get from the feds we’ll have to come up with ourselves. I would be not doing my job if I did not advance it.”

Debris removal could cost more than $200 million and will require Houston to foot 10 percent of the bill without being reimbursed. The city also lost 334 vehicles to floodwaters and saw its municipal courts complex, city hall and its adjacent annex and two wastewater treatment plants knocked offline.

Here is the entire read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/houston/article/Turner-proposes-tax-rate-hike-for-Harvey-response-12189814.php.

In the article, seven members of the H-Town City Council had a comment. All four Dems supported the Mayor and three GOPers opposed.

If we are going to have to cough up more dough, you figure there have to be some trade-offs.

What exactly are we short? What exactly are we paying for? For example, if we lost 334 vehicles, what is the replacement cost for 334 vehicles?

How about tougher regulations to keep folks from building in areas that flood easily?

How about committing to some of the 12 points raised by the Chron E-Board this past Sunday?

I know this may sound cold blooded. The property owners who suffered severe damage probably feel that they should be exempt from paying more taxes. The property owners who didn’t suffer any damage may wonder why they should paying for clean-up in other parts of town. Interesting dilemma. Nobody gets a free ride though.

To the GOPers who have a problem with paying more taxes, how about getting Gov. Greg Abbott to shake some serious money loose from the so called Rainy Day Fund to help pay for the recovery.

Stay tuned on this item for sure.

It looks like Hunker Down reads Commentary. I said this yesterday:

Commentary gets that all of our local elected officials have been busy trying to help their constituents that sustained flood damage and they have not had the time to focus on next steps. It will be interesting to see which ones will finally get around to embracing major changes in how we do things around here.

This is the co-headline in today’s  Chron:

COUNTY: Emmett eyes upgrades for dams, reservoirs, regulations

Here is the start of the article:

Calling Tropical Storm Harvey’s devastation a “game-changer,” Harris County Judge Ed Emmett on Monday called for a sweeping reexamination of the region’s flood control strategy, a process that could include billions of dollars to upgrade aging dams, building a new storm water reservoir and ramping up regulations to tamp down booming development in flood-prone areas.

Here is the entire article: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/houston/article/Emmett-calls-for-sweeping-changes-to-region-s-12189908.php.

Nice! Let’s get others on the program.

Here is from Commentary’s client, Gretchen Himsl for HISD Trustee, District 1:

Dear Friends,

As we move into the final eight weeks, I wanted to take a moment to provide an update on our campaign. First, our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by Hurricane Harvey. We are saddened by the devastating losses our fellow Houstonians experienced, but also inspired by the acts of heroism large and small we witnessed in the storm’s aftermath. It’s what makes Houston such an amazing place to call home, and I look forward to continuing to help our city and our schools rebuild.

As we try to return to normal, I want to report that our campaign continues to gain momentum. I’m excited to announce the endorsement by City Councilmember Karla Cisneros, who previously represented District I on the School Board and now serves a large number of its residents at City Hall.

Houstonians for Great Public Schools (www.houstongps.org) also endorsed me, joining other public education advocates such as current HISD Trustee Anna Eastman, State Representative Garnet Coleman, former State Representative Scott Hochberg, and former HISD Trustees Paula Arnold, Dianne Johnson, and Cathy Mincberg. A full list of supporters can be found on our updated website at www.gretchenforhisd.com.

Our voter outreach efforts will kick back up this weekend — walking neighborhoods and hosting weekly meet and greet events with our District I neighbors. If you would like to help, please contact us by email, phone, website, Facebook or Twitter – there’s a job for everyone! This also is a good time to check your voter registration. The last day to register is October 7. If you aren’t sure about your registration, please visit http://www.hctax.net/Voter/Search and enter your name. We have more details on how to register on our website.

Lastly, I want to thank everyone who has contributed financially to our campaign. We have been blessed by the generous support of so many friends and neighbors. Campaigns are expensive, even at this local level. The contributions you make at the website https://tinyurl.com/contributetoGretchen will go directly to communicating our message to the voters of District I in the coming weeks. Thank you again for your support!

Sincerely,

Gretchen

Paid for by the Gretchen Himsl Campaign.

The ‘Stros need to start playing better. That’s all I have to say as Justin Verlander starts this evening.